Lock Every Door

By Riley Sager, A well-constructed thriller about a gig that sounds too good to be true

Brief Summary
Detailed Summary
Read it or Skip It?

Lock Every Door by Riley Sagar has been a surprisingly buzzy book this summer, and now that I’ve read it, I can understand why. If you love mystery thrillers, this one is one to check out.

Plot Summary

For the Detailed Plot Summary, click here or scroll all the way down.

Jules Larsen is a young woman with less than $500 bucks in her checking account, a broken engagement and no job. When she’s offered a chance to “apartment sit” for an apartment at a beautiful, upscale building called The Bartholomew, she jumps at the chance, despite knowing that it all seems a little too good to be true.

As Jules begins to look into the many stories that surround the Bartholomew, she soon starts to uncover secrets of its dark and haunted past. However, it seems there are those around her that would prefer those secrets stay buried.

See Lock Every Door on Amazon.

Book Review

Lock Every Door was one of the more solidly constructed mystery/thrillers that I’ve read in recent memory. In this story, it’s not clear until the end what type of story this even is. There’s rumors of murders, hauntings and even Satanic rituals surrounding the Bartholomew, so part of the mystery is that you don’t know exactly what you’re dealing with for much of the book.

The book goes by quickly. The writing is solid, and the mystery progresses at a steady clip to keep things interesting. Information, reveals and plot progression is really well paced. I never felt like the book dragged at any point.

I was genuinely impressed at how well put together the plot is. Most of the occurrences in Lock Every Door happen for a specific reason. There aren’t a bunch of cheap scares or fake-outs in terms of the little cliff-hangers in the plot. Even stuff that seems random in the beginning ends up coming together in the end.

I figured who the villain was based on various clues in the book, but there’s much more to the ending than just one bad guy, which made it that much more fun when it was finally revealed what was going on. Most importantly, when the reveal finally came, all the random bits of information in the book made sense. To me, that’s a sign of a well put together mystery.

Riley Sagar is the pen name for Todd Ritter, who previously penned a number of books under that name. I went into it knowing the author was male, and I think that made me hyper-aware of checking for voice inconsistencies (like stuff where it sounds like a guy is talking and not a woman), so I was surprised and pleased that I didn’t really notice any.

Book Review: Some Criticisms

I try to include some criticisms in most of my reviews, but I honestly don’t have much for this one. I thought the premise was only so-so, but the rest of the story is well done enough that it doesn’t really matter.

When everything is revealed, the whole thing is kind of nutty, but I guess to me there’s generally a nutty-ness factor in a lot of mysteries so as long as it’s not completely out of left field, I tend to be pretty okay with it. I think this one is perhaps a bit nuttier than most, so some people may be turned off by it.

Lock Every Door Movie / Series Adaptation

Lock Every Door has been optioned as a co-production by Paramount and Anonymous Content to be adapted into a television series. Brian Buckner who wrote and produced True Blood will be helming and writing the Lock Every Door adaptation.

Read it or Skip it?

If you like mystery-thrillers, Lock Every Door is a well constructed and exciting read. The writing is above average for a thriller, and the plot fits together nicely. There is a kind of ridiculous aspect to the plot, so if you have a low tolerance for sort of unlikely events, then maybe this one will be a pass for you.

I thought this was a fun and enjoyable thriller. It went by quickly and served its purpose of providing a couple hours of entertainment well.

Have you read Lock Every Door? What did you think? Do you think this is something you’d read? See Lock Every Door on Amazon.


Detailed Plot Summary (Spoilers)

Now

Jules Larsen awakes on a gurney in the hospital. She's been hit by a car. She begs them not send her back to the Bartholomew.

Six Days Earlier: Chapters 1 - 3

Jules is interviewing for a job as an apartment sitter. The interviewer is Leslie Evelyn, and the unit is in a very upscale building called The Bartholomew. Leslie explains that the previous resident passed away, and the family is determining what to do with the unit. There's a rule that no apartment can sit empty for more than a month (to prevent break-ins), so they need an apartment sitter.

Jules recently lost her job and caught her now-ex-boyfriend cheating on her. She has no family. She tells Leslie she's allergic to bee stings. Leslie offers her the job. Jules's friend Chloe thinks the situation seems suspicious. Jules signs an "letter of agreement" instead of a contract. They are also paying her under the table. But Jules sees the job as a lifeline and is determined to take it.

Now

Jules wakes up still in the hospital room with relief.

Five Days Earlier: Chapters 4 - 11

Jules moves into 12A at the Bartholomew. Leslie tells her more rules: no visitors, no posting about the Bartholomew on social media, no bothering other residents, no smoking and no drugs. There is a stone gargoyle outside her window, which she nicknames George. Jules meets Dylan, another apartment sitter. Chloe continues to be weirded out by the situation. She tells Jules about the building's odd level of secrecy and the strange occurrences that are said to have happened there like witches, accidents, etc.

The previous resident seems to be someone named Marjorie Milton. In the apartment, there a copy of a book called Heart of a Dreamer which is set in the Bartholomew. Jules remembers this book from when she was younger. Jules gets a note sent up via the dumbwaiter from someone named Ingrid welcoming her. Later, she meets Marianne Duncan, a well-known actress and building resident, plus her dog Rufus. She also meets Greta Manville, author of Heart of a Dreamer, who lives there as well, but Greta is cold and rude to her.

While carrying groceries, Ingrid runs into Jules, and Jules gets injured. The building doorman Charlie generously buys her new groceries and tells her to go see Dr. Nick a building resident. He helps to stitch her up. Ingrid then asks to meet up at Central Park. There, Ingrid apologies for the run-in. Ingrid is similar to her and is also apartment-sitting. She tells Jules about Erica Mitchell, a previous apartment sitter for 12A who left two months early. Ingrid wants to be friends and have lunch every day. She seems needy, but Jules agrees.

Jules thinks about her sister Jane's disappearance. Jane's boss saw her get into a car with a man he didn't recognize. They never saw her again. The police think she ran away, though her parents believed that she was abducted or murdered.

That night Jules hears a scream she thinks came from Ingrid's place. She goes to check it out. Ingrid looks frazzled but denies it was her.

Now

The doctor, Dr. Wagner, goes to check on her. He wants to know what she was running from.

Four Days Earlier: Chapters 12 - 16

Andrew (the cheating ex) texts her, which she ignores. Charlie isn't there today due to a family emergency. Ingrid is a no-show at Central Park for lunch. Jules runs into Leslie who says Ingrid left suddenly and no longer lives at the Bartholomew. Her sudden departure reminds Jules of when she found out her sister was missing. Jules tries calling Ingrid and searching for her on social media. She's able to find Ingrid Gallagher, and messages someone that Ingrid knows, Zeke.

She also sees that Ingrid previously posted a photo with Greta Manville. Jules goes to see Greta. Greta doesn't know anything about Ingrid and didn't hear anything last night. They also talk about Heart of a Dreamer and the Bartholomew's sordid past.

She sees Dylan who says the same stuff. He didn't know Ingrid and didn't hear any noises. Jules runs into Nick and ends up asking him to grab a bite so she can ask him about the Bartholomew. They go to his apartment instead. Nick reveals that his and Greta's grandparents were friends and they both are "legacy" tenants.

Four Days Earlier: Chapters 17 - 20

Jules does some research on Bartholomew and finds out that 12A was originally the servants quarters. The building originally had poor ventilation and as a result many servants died there during a flu outbreak. The building's designer was a doctor and killed himself in guilt by jumping off the roof. There's also more stories of murder, haunted stairwells and the like. There was a gruesome murder of a servant, Ruby Smith, for which her employer Cornelia Swanson was charged a well.

Jules finally thinks to check the dumbwaiter (since that's how Ingrid initially introduced herself). She kinds a key to a storage unit and a note telling her to "be careful." In the basement, she passes by Jeannette, a building employee, smoking. Zeke calls her back just as she gets to the storage unit. He tells her the last time he saw Ingrid, she wanted to buy a gun, which is what she finds in the unit.

Jules wakes up to Nick's pounding on the door, and there's smoke everywhere. He drags her out and goes back to check for others. Jules goes to Greta's apartment to help her down. She grabs Rufus on the way down. They make it out in time.

Now

Jules tells Dr. Wagner that she fled the Bartholomew because she was scared. She asks for her phone so she can call Chloe.

Three Days Earlier: Chapters 21 - 23

Nick tells Jules that the fire originated from 7C, when another resident Mr. Leonard had a heart attack while cooking, causing the fire. Chloe see a picture of Jules in the news because of the fire. Jules tells Chloe about Ingrid, who doesn't think it's any of her business. Chloe thinks her search has more to do with unresolved feeling about Jess's disappearance. Chloe is headed for Vermont for the weekend and repeats her offer to lend her cash so she doesn't have to stay at the Bartholomew, but Jules declines.

Greta invites her to lunch as a thank you for helping her during the fire. Jules tells Greta about losing her parents in a fire. She doesn't mention that she knows it was on purpose, as they were unable to deal with mounting medical bills from her mother's cancer. Greta is sympathetic. Greta also suggests looking for Ingrid in a homeless shelter or calling hospitals. Jules goes to a homeless shelter, but doesn't see her. Instead, she shows a picture of Ingrid around and gives her number to a woman named Bobbie who says she'll tell her if she see anyone who looks like that.

Three Days Earlier: Chapters 24 - 28

Andrew shows up to talk to her. Jules sees Nick and pretends he's her boyfriend. He plays along willingly.

Jules also asks Charlie about security cam footage of Ingrid leaving, but he says the camera malfunctioned around then. Next, she visits Marianne Duncan. Marianne claims she knows nothing about Ingrid, but seems to be hiding something. She warns Jules to stop asking questions. Leslie sees her and gives her a firm warning about bothering the residents. Next time, she's going to be kicked out.

Jules asks Nick to use the dumbwaiter to lift her down to Ingrid's old apartment. It works. She finds an inscribed copy of Heart of a Dreamer. Back in the apartment, Jules and Nick get caught up in the moment and they sleep together.

Now

Jules tries very hard to settle her voice as she talks to the doctor. She tells him she thinks several people have been murdered at the Bartholomew.

Two Days Earlier: Chapters 29 - 33

Jules wakes up at Nick's place and heads to her apartment. She drops her keys in the grate next to the door. She unscrews the grate to get her keys, but also sees some other fallen items, including a cell phone. She charges the phone. There's a picture of a woman on the save screen who she's seen before.

Outside, there's a "missing" flyer with the same woman's face as the one on the cell phone. The name on the poster is "Erica Mitchell", the previous sitter for 12A. She was last seen 12 days ago. She calls the number on the poster and Dylan picks up. When she identifies herself, he hangs up and texts her to meet him at the Natural History Museum instead.

Dylan says Erica left in a similar manner as Ingrid. He also found a ring belonging to another resident (Megan Pulaski) who has been missing for a year. They realize a common trait among all of them (the sitters) is that they all have no family. The night Ingrid went missing, she was supposed to meet Dylan to tell him about what she's learned about Erica.

They pay Zeke's friend to unlock Erica's phone and find a video she took where she's clearly scared of something. She's interrupted by Greta, who has inscribed a book for her. Jules checks and is weirded out when sees that her, Erica and Ingrid's copies of the book all had the exact same inscription, but with the name changed. She's more weirded out that Greta lies and says she's never signed a copy for anyone else in the building.

Two Days Earlier: Chapters 34 - 36

She finally gets a text from Ingrid, but it doesn't sound like her. Jules realizes this is probably not Ingrid, but someone pretending to be her. She tests the person by asking what her nickname is (Ingrid called her Juju), but the person responds that "Jules" is her real name. The only person she's told that is Nick.

As she realizes this, he knocks on her door, but she doesn't let him in. She locks it instead. She texts Chloe to say she thinks she's in danger. Jules spent all her money on paying to get the phone unlocked, so she only has 27 dollars. She needs to wait two day, get paid, and then she'll have money to leave.

Now

The nurse returns with the only thing Jules was carrying as she fled the Bartholomew, a picture of her family. The other thing she was carrying was her phone, but the nurse says they didn't see it. Jules realizes with dread that it means Nick has her phone. She told Chloe about all of it via text so potentially Chloe could be in danger. She tries to get up to warn Chloe, but the doctors say she's in no state to leave and inject her with a sedative.

One Day Earlier: Chapters 37 - 40

Jules keeps going through Erica's phone and sees something about Marjorie Milton. She googles her and finds out Marjorie is alive (contrary to what Leslie told her). Jules tracks her down in her new apartment. Marjorie doesn't want to talk to her, but Jules sees that she's wearing a pin in the shape of an ouroboros. The same figure (snake eating its tail) is in a painting that Nick has on the wall in his apartment.

Jules goes to the library to do some research. She learns that the ouroboros is a symbol often used in alchemy. It's about life rising from death. She also finds that it's connected to Satanism. She remembers that the woman who killed the servant from the Bartholomew, Cornelia Swanson, had been consorting with a satanist, Maria Damyanov. And that the group they'd been involved in was called the Golden Chalice, named after a component of a Satanic ritual.

Jules looks up Cornelia Swanson and realizes she recognizes the photo. She'd seen it in Nick's photo album. Cornelia is the grandmother of Greta Manville. Jules now understands that the people at the Bartholomew are essentially the Golden Chalice reborn, and they are looking for young people to use as sacrifices.

Jules gets a call from Bobbie, who says Ingrid has shown up. Jules rushes there and finds Ingrid looking haggard with a cheap dye job.

One Days Earlier: Chapters 41 - 43

Ingrid tells Jules how she's surviving and how she discovered what was going on in the Bartholomew. She says when she injured Jules it wasn't an accident. Leslie paid her to do it. That night she heard a scream, it was Ingrid. Nick had come for Ingrid that night. Jules had interrupted it, which gave Ingrid a chance to pepper spray him after Jules left and run away.

Jules realizes there is a full moon tonight, and tells Ingrid to stay put. She needs to warn Dylan. She gets to the Bartholomew, but he isn't there. When Leslie appears, she runs up to 12A to get her stuff and leave, but Nick appears. He's holding a stun gun. Jules dives into the dumbwaiter and lets it fall. Then she runs out to the elevator. Nick is there, but she catches his arm in the grate. She goes down the elevator. In the lobby, Charlie tries to stop her but she stuns him with the stun gun. She runs outside and gets hit by the car.

Now

When Jules awakes again, Leslie is there along with Dr. Wagner and Nick. She screams.

One Day Later

Jules has a dream where her whole family stabs her.

Two Days Later

Jules wakes again and Nick is there. He tells her the surgery was a success. They only needed one kidney.

Three Days Later

Jules wakes and Greta Manville is there. She tells her she's sorry, but that the kidney has saved her life. Nick shows up later and fills in the details. He admits his great-grandfather was Thomas Bartholomew. The Bartholomew was originally built to be a safe haven for the rich, to protect them against the diseases outside.

Now, Nick continues the work in a different way. They tell rich people they can stay there and hopefully find organ donors (the apartment sitters). He tells her that Cornelia Swanson and the dead servant was the first transplant attempt that went badly. It has nothing to do with Satanism. He also tells her about her other organs that they will be harvesting, her heart (for Charlie's daughter) and her liver (for Marianne Duncan).

Four Days Later

Jules waits in the room. She realizes this place has a limited amount of rooms. She hears that Mr. Leonard is here because he's gotten a new heart, which presumably came from Dylan. Greta tells Jules that she's being moved back to the Bartholomew tomorrow, which means there will be room for someone else. Presumably, that means they'll kill Jules for the rest of her organs tomorrow.

Bernard, the nurse, comes to check on her. Bernard admits he's working here to get an organ for his father. Jules warns Bernard that they might be lying to him or might just take his organs instead. Bernard doesn't return. A different nurse checks on Jules instead.

Jules has secretly not been taking the pills they've been giving her, and she swipes a lighter from the nurse. Jules uses the lighter to set off the fire alarm. When they come to check it out, she exits and locks them in.

She exits the hospital area, which leads into Nick's apartment. He stops her, but Jules stabs him. Before she leaves, she grabs books from the study and sets them on fire, causing a huge blaze. She wants to burn the place down. As the fire burns, the residents start to evacuate. Jules holds on to the photo of her family and grabs Rufus on her way out. She sees Nick jump off the roof.

Six Months Later

Chloe has moved in with her boyfriend Paul, and Jules is staying at Chloe's place. After the dust settled the police went in and started investigating. Records in Leslie's office show that over 40 years, over 200 guests received organs from 126 unwilling donors. Many were runaways or homeless.

Charlie gave the police a lot of information, leading to the arrest and conviction of many of the people involved, including a lot of former residents and famous people. The Bartholomew is also being torn down. Jules notes that the only person she met there who didn't kill themselves or end up in prison was Greta Manville.

Jules has been on television and has ended each with a plea asking for information on Jane, her sister, though no new information has come up. The book ends with Jules watching the first wrecking ball hit the Bartholomew.

See Lock Every Door on Amazon.

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